Friday, January 29, 2010

Pork? Good. Stress? Bad.

I went to Miami this week.

It was 70 degrees.

My coworkers and I ate at a restaurant owned by Gloria Estefan. If a Cuban offers you a piece of pork - any kind of pork, under any circumstances - take it. It will be delicious.

The Miami downtown Hilton is not as nice as it should be. The toilet in my room was situated too close to the tub and too far from the vanity, so I couldn't reach the toilet paper while sitting on the throne.

We spent the day at a call center. I remembered why I got my college degree. I overheard a name that trumps Lafawnduh as my favorite name ever: Chiffondah.

I dipped my toes in the Atlantic. It was warm, and the sand was cool. And I took a deep breath and let it out ... all of it. All of the stress and worry and blah blah blah.

And then I got back to the real world. Our flight back to the chilly Midwest was delayed by 45 minutes because the water on the plane wasn't working and they were waiting for moist towelettes for the lavatories.

That's right. Delta wasn't concerned about the fact that we didn't have water, but we couldn't leave until we had Wet-Naps. There was a serviceman on our flight, on his last leg to get home from Iraq. The trip had taken him seven days, and we delayed him due to Wet-Naps? Seriously?

And that's sort of the way the rest of the week has been going. January is traditionally the most stressful time at Corporate Behemoth. This year has been no exception.

And now it's Friday night and I'm camped out with the doxies. They're snoring and I'm tense, still worried about the 78 things I didn't get done today, the fires, the frustrations.

I picked a really stupid time to go off Zoloft.

I hate the idea of being dependent on a stupid little pill. It feels like a crutch. And when I went off of it in December, I felt like I had the flu. I figured that any drug that messes with you like that and has an actual withdrawal is not something you want to be taking for any long period of time. I rode it out and eventually stopped feeling like barfing 24/7.

But I'm just so angry. And overwhelmed. And cloudy. I had a date with My Guy tonight and instead, I asked him for a rain check because all I wanted, more than anything in the world, was to sit on my couch. Alone. In sweatpants.

But now I'm on my couch, alone, in sweatpants, and I'm anxious. I don't have anything I need to be doing, but being stressed seems to be my natural state. Is it just January at Corporate Behemoth, and this, too, shall pass? Or is it something more?

Is this normal?

And why don't I live on the beach?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You don't even know!

I totally missed this, but in December, My Boyfriend Dave Grohl was featured in Time magazine's 10 questions. As expected, he was brilliant.

If you replace "drummer" with "editor" and "band" with "product," this is how I feel about being an editor:

You play many different roles in your various musical endeavors. Which do you enjoy the most? - Rebecca Brock, Alpharetta, GA

My Boyfriend Dave Grohl: I love being a drummer. Everyone thinks you're dumb. What they don't realize is that if it weren't for you, their band would suck.

So, to the coworker who announced in a meeting full of noneditors, "Wow, Cha Cha, if you get that excited about bulleted lists, we need to get you a life?" To you, my friend?

I'm just gonna smile and nod. OK, maybe I think about punctuation in the shower. But I'm saving you from sucking!

You're welcome.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Items of note.

So much bidness this week. Where to begin?

Are we not in love?
In response to my admission that I hate pickles and mustard more than anything in the universe, A Piece of News posted this: When I was a kid I would take a whole dill pickle, cover it in mustard and then sprinkle it with salt. Does this mean we have a deal-breaker? ;)

No, it's not a deal-breaker. But I refuse to French you.

More lessons from the Tiger Woods scandal.
Betty Broderick was denied bail this week. You might remember her as played by Meredith Baxter-Birney in A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story. Yep. Betty went after her ex-husband and his new wife. With a gun. The lesson here? When it comes to revenge, be an Elin, not a Betty. Gun? Not so much. Golf club? Hell yeah.

An e-mail from my lovely mother.
I'd forgotten I hadn't downloaded pictures from Christmas! Thought you needed to see:

The Stack The Elder Statesman
Love, Yo Momma


A true and honest offer-slash-desperate plea.
All of the comments about Jell-o salads made me want to, well, create and eat Jell-o salads. All of you fine readers who reminisced in the comments about orange sherbet and Jell-o salad? The raspberry Jell-o with the blueberry pie filling? The egg nog Jell-o treat? Iron Needles, Tracye, and CheckerMom - are you listening?

If you e-mail me a Jell-o recipe, I will trade you. I will send you the recipe for my all-time favorite dessert ever in the history of the universe. It involves not one but two - two! - kinds of pudding. And Cool Whip. And Jiffy cake mix.

A true and honest offer-slash-desperate plea, part deux.
Green Girl in Wisconsin had an excellent idea for beating the winter blahs.

I have two words for you: Spa Weekend. The only question is WHEN? Shall we meet in Iowa?

I hear Cedar Rapids is lovely this time of year.

I love, love, love that idea, Green Girl. But Iowa is getting ice storms, like, every other day.
Isn't my parents' yard lovely? Those branches? They used to be, like, attached to the trees.
And yes, my people e-mail each other photos of weather. That's how we roll.

So, maybe we should consider alternatives. Because I can't wait until winter is over to get me some hot spa action.

Maybe we should all get massages on the same day - an international blogger spa day! And then we could all blog about how relaxed and happy and Zen we are, and it would send all this positive energy into the universe, and then maybe I'd stop being so crabby about how the library lost my held materials AGAIN and how I have to go to Miami this week not to sit in the sun but to sit in a call center. Maybe the positive energy would make a difference in the world.

Who's with me?

Images courtesy of My Momma and Amazon.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

In which I'm either totally hip or hopelessly out-of-touch.

I watched Conan O'Brien's last show. I thought we was a class act all the way through - making jokes about NBC but not being mean-spirited. He was so appreciative of the individuals he had worked with and spoke so lovingly of his time with them, at NBC, and hosting The Tonight Show.

I'm so with Coco.

So, the NBC folks did what they did, and Leno's back after the winter Olympics. I don't know about you, but if they were hell-bent on replacing Conan, I think they overlooked the very best option.

Johnny Carson reruns.


The man was the master. I'd much rather watch 30-year-old Carson tapes than live Jay Leno. Hell, I'd rather watch Johnny's decomposing corpse than Leno.

These old clips make me laugh. I feel like Johnny was a member of my family, and a class act all the way. While Leno seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator, Johnny was smart but not snobby - a Nebraska boy (actually he was born in Iowa - ahem) who was still amazed at where he landed and the world around him, even though he was the ultimate insider. He was one of us.

Johnny always made me feel so grown up. I've been a night owl my entire life and my mom swears that even as a newborn, I refused to go to sleep until after Johnny's monologue. I've always had good taste.

Leno? He just makes me feel stupid.

If we can't have Conan, let's rally around the one and only suitable replacement - Johnny Carson. Who's with me?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Steal this post.

I've been reading Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire. It's a collection of all the questionnaires that appear on the last page of the magazine. You know ... the only part of the magazine you always read?

It's quite interesting. The questionnaire is a late-19th century parlor game, and the book is all sorts of famous folks' answers. Some of them are hilarious, some overwrought, others just the right amount of thoughtful.

I thought I'd take a pass.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I'm pretty sure it involves a beach.

What is your greatest fear?
Not being good enough.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Difficulty letting people in.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What is your favorite journey?
I'm going to steal Sandra Bernhard's answer: Steve Perry

On what occasion do you lie?
When good manners dictate it.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Cool, great, and fuck. Not typically together, though.

Which living person do you most despise?
People who are cruel to the helpless - especially when those helpless are children or animals.

What is your greatest regret?
I don't really have that kind of time.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I'd like to be the go-to singer who always hits the high notes.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I'd like to harness my critical eye for good only. Right now, it occasionally takes me to some dark places.

What is it that you most dislike?
This is a tie between pickles and mustard.

What is your most treasured possession?
Lots of folks answered this question with some variation of "my family." This heebs me out because people aren't possessions. I'm going to go with the few small baubles that belonged to my grandmothers and bring me such joy.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

What is your most marked characteristic?
Surviving ... and flourishing.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Integrity ... and a sense of humor.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Kindness ... and a sense of humor.

What do you most value in your friends?

How would you like to die?
Comfortably, in my bed, at a very old age, after a life well-lived.

What is your motto?
Get busy living or get busy dying.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beating the winter blahs.


It's the third week of January. It's been foggy all week. It's the busiest time of year at Corporate Behemoth and my team is understaffed. My jeans are too tight and I'm tired.

I need some of this.
And this.
And to remember all about this.
Sadly, I did not get the calming, rejuvenating kick I had hoped for by spending the evening in my pajamas, watching The Biggest Loser. Somebody needs to kick some of those people in their situations, if you know what I mean. It's called personal accountability - you might look into it.

What were we talking about again?

Oh, right. Not getting mired down in the yuck. I'm taking personal accountability.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Check your local listings.

My nerddom in becoming a Facebook fan of my local PBS station has totally paid off. In the last week, I've been alerted to three awesome shows that I was then able to DVR and get all smart with.

The first two were American Masters - one on Sam Cooke and one on Marvin Gaye. What did I learn? Sam Cooke had a child out of wedlock with his high school sweetheart, but then married someone else. He then divorced that lady and she died soon after. Then, he married his high school sweetheart when their daughter was seven or eight. Then, when Sam was killed? His wife married his buddy/mentee - two months later.

Got that?

And as for Marvin? Well, his strict preacher daddy was a cross dresser.

And that's all I have to say about that.

But the best show? Independent Lens showed Young@Heart. It's a documentary about a chorus that sings rocks songs. Oh, and all of the singers are at least 74 years old.

Growing old ain't for sissies. But this film was so inspiring. These folks are so vibrant and have such a great sense of humor. Their story and their performances are incredibly moving.

I originally wanted to see this in the theatre when it came out two years ago. But I was busy, you know, doing shit. But I'm glad. I needed to see this now - and it was nice to cry unabashedly in the comfort of my own living room.

But mostly I was glad for these people and their music.

The film is out on DVD if you miss it on PBS.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Is it just me?

It's Luxurious Saturday here. It's mid-afternoon, and so far, I'm still in my pajamas. I've spent the day hanging out with the doxies and reading. Among other things, I read the latest issue of Vanity Fair cover to cover. Bliss!

So, this is the issue with Tiger Woods all shirtless and sweaty. My first thought was, "Look at those abs. I wonder if that's what I look like, seeing as how I've done Shred five of the last seven days?"

And then I came back to Earth.

The article was all about Tiger's dramatic and unmatched fall from grace - not the details of what girls and where, but an overall look at his role in golf and society and what's going to happen next.

I find myself focusing on his wife, Elin. Girlfriend was so mad that she chased after him with a golf club and used it to break out the back window of his SUV. That's one angry woman.

Good for her. I'm a little jealous.

See, I've been that kind of angry before. And I didn't pick up the golf club, or the lamp, or the book, or whatever inanimate object was handy. Sometimes? I wish I had. But good girls don't do such things. I'm not saying that Elin didn't totally have the right to go after her philandering husband - I'm just saying that it's not something good girls are taught how to do.

About a month after I left Ex-Ex, I drove past our formerly shared home on my way to a yoga class. It was a Sunday morning. In the driveway of the house, I saw the car of his "I swear we're just friends even though we spend A LOT of time together" former high school girlfriend. On a Sunday morning.

Did I mention it was on a Sunday morning?

In that one, blinding moment, I understood why people lose their shit. Because the first thing that popped into my mind - other than "that whore is fucking my man in my bed on my sheets in my bedroom - which I painted myself, thank you" - was that I needed to go around the block. I needed to go around the block so that I could ram my car into her car. Repeatedly. It was like the chemical makeup of my body completely changed - I was suddenly warm and tense and made of some sort of liquid metal, like Robocop.

So, what did I do? I went to yoga. I cried on the phone to BFF for 10 minutes, but I went to that stupid yoga class, which wasn't yoga at all. It was tense liquid metal Cha Cha pretending to stretch and be all Zen when really I had hatred radiating off my skin, like radioactive sweat.

Elin did what I wished I'd had the opportunity and guts to do.

And even with Ex-Wonderful, when I found out that he'd lied to me about his coworker "friend" and whether or not they were on the same business trip together? When I caught him in a lie about a whore - I mean a woman - he'd admitted he had feelings about?

I was wearing shoes. It occurred to me to pull them off and aim for his nose. But all I could manage was a maniacal laugh! I laughed and felt totally insane! I told him to find me a drifter because I needed to kill somebody! And then? Then, I let him take me out for pancakes. I ate the rage.

Again? Kudos to Elin.

I am afraid of confrontation. I'm afraid of that kind of passion or volatility or lack of control - whatever you want to call it. I'm afraid of it, but I look approvingly at it when it's attached to other people, admire people who can harness that energy appropriately.

Not that brandishing a golf club against your husband and his car is the most appropriate action ever, but really? Really, the fucker deserved it. And I bet it made Elin feel a whole lot better. It got that sick, twisted energy out of her body instead of letting it eat her alive.

Me? I'm still a little bit pissed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No, I'm not a professional spokesmodel. Yet.

I met some friends for happy hour tonight. We're all from small towns, and this common bond means we all have a strong heritage of Jell-o salad.

Now, Jell-o salad isn't just Jell-o. Oh, no, my friend. Jell-o salad is, well, salad! With Jell-o! Iowa native and my literary boyfriend Bill Bryson calls Jell-o "the state fruit of Iowa" - and he's right.

But the ways of the Jell-o salad are mysterious, and each family has its own Jell-o traditions and proclivities. Our conversation tonight went something like this:

Now, did you all have Jell-o salad at Christmas?

Oh, of course!

Well, duh! It's Christmas!

What kind?

Well, my favorite is orange with mandarin oranges in it.

Oh, that is good.

Yeah, my family tends towards the more traditional cherry Jell-o with pears, cherries, bananas and grapes in it.

Now, I just can't abide by that. It seems so boring and fruit cocktail-esque.

Really? What's your favorite?

Well ... my mom makes the lime with pineapple and cottage cheese.

Bwah ha ha!

You guys! Does your mom ever make the black cherry Jell-o with Bing cherries in it?

I don't really like cherries.

What? You're so missing out. That's the best kind!

Now, my grandma used to make it with shredded carrots ...

YES! And raisins! My mom makes that all the time.

What's the one that's basically lime Jell-o with Cool Whip?

Oh, no, no! That's pistachio pudding mix, Cool Whip, marshmellows, and a can of crushed pineapple - Watergate salad.


Dude! That's probably my favorite food in the entire world!

Have you had the one with the pretzel crust?

With the strawberry?

Oh, yeah.

I could go on and on, but you get the general idea.

Did you know there's pina colada-flavored Jell-o? Me neither! But you can find it at the Jell-o Flavor Finder. Oh, sweet, sweet Jell-o - you make the world my oyster.

Eating in the Midwest? It's cool. But I know it's not the end all, be all. What random regional specialities / comfort food makes you giddy?

I tried to find an appetizing pic of Jell-o salad, but, umm, had trouble. I'm not talking about Jell-o shots or Jell-molds - I'm talking about all-American Jell-0 salad! In a bowl! I need to talk to the Google Images folks about the dearth of images on this important topic.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Taking responsibility.

I am so fortunate that Green Girl brought this important news to my attention.

VH1 Reality Show Bus Crashes In California Causing Major Slut Spill

Given my love of Rock of Love Bus, I feel partly responsible for this environmental disaster. vh1 transports sluts for my entertainment ... and given my new infatuation with Frank the Entertainer In A Basement Affair, I am guilty as ever.

Yes, it's a reality show where sluts fight for a grown man who lives in his parents' basement.

This woman claims to be 29.

Now, I've blogged and obsessed over Rock of Love Bus. And I've even considered getting over my Donald Trumpaphobia to watch Bret Michaels on The Apprentice. But mostly, I'm wishing Bret would hurry up and get another reality show already, because Frank's sluts just aren't slutty enough.
Case in point.

In the meantime, though, I'm going to support sluts and try to keep them out of our waterways and parks. I'm going to try to contain them by offering them one place to shop for their Lucite heels, boob implants, push-up bras, bad weaves, acrylic air-brushed nails, and leopard-print "formalwear."
It's going to be called SlutMart. And I know there's a need for it, because, really?
Where do they get this stuff? Except for the girl in the jeans. She looks normal and somewhat uncomfortable around all those sluts. Maybe she can lead SlutMart's post-slutty halfway house and counseling program.

Photos courtesy of vh1, that channel that used to play videos.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Get outta my face.

I'm thinking about taking a break from an important relationship in my life.

Yes. I'm thinking about taking a break from Facebook. That bitch is just getting me down.

In the last two weeks, FB has told me about a classmate's massive stroke and subsequent death; the passing of a classmate's mom, a woman I've known my entire life; and the life-threatening heart attack of a classmate's dad, a man who was a well-liked teacher when we were in high school.

I can't handle any more bad news! Plus, it disrupts the natural balance of my world. When I talked to my mom tonight, she was all, "Mrs. Wilson had a heart attack," and I was all, "Noooo! It was MR. Wilson! I saw it on Facebook!" And that's just not right. FB is interfering with the flow of the mother / daughter gossip distribution chain.

I will tell you, though, that I'm rejecting another FB friend request. The first rejection was for that bitch who tried to steal my bike shorts in 10th grade. Although I loooooooved Emotional Mullet's suggestion to set up a fan page for my bike shorts and ask crazy girl to become a fan. Because that's just brilliant.

But this other friend request? Well, I didn't recognize this woman's name for the longest time because - hello! - she didn't include her maiden name anywhere. And her picture was of a kid. Didn't give me a lot to go on.

But Miss Thing changed her profile pic, and I now recognize her as a sorority sister. A sorority sister whom I last saw five years ago. Five years ago ... when I was working retail.

Yes. Right after I left Ex-Ex, I subsidized my shitty apartment and supported my freelance writing habit by working at The Body Shop. I learned all about community-trade jojoba oil. I also learned a lot about people based on how they treat retail clerks.

I got mostly immune to the folks who ignore you when you greet them as they enter the store. I still hold a grudge against the woman who snapped at me like a dog, but am proud of myself for smiling pleasantly and walking away as if to say, "You couldn't possibly be snapping at me."

But this particular sorority sister? Well, she came in one day when I was stationed by the front door, in my Body Butter t-shirt, apron, and the black pants I'd actually worn to a real job that didn't involve giving demos of body scrub. A real job where I wasn't the only employee with a college degree yet constantly assigned broom duty.

So, Ms. Thing comes in and I recognize her immediately.

Me: Ms. Thing! How are you?

Ms. Thing, breezing past me: Hi. I'm married and have a son.

She never slowed down. She was not in a hurry. She spent 15 minutes in the tiny store and did not speak to me for the rest of her visit.

I was wearing a fucking name tag and my cheeks burned. Because sometimes? Even when you're voted Most Involved in your sorority and you're a queen candidate and you have the best grades in the house and you get pinned your senior year and you're basically an overachieving nightmare? Even then, you can end up making $7 an hour and being judged on your ability to Windex shelves and promote mascara.

And that's why I'm overly nice to retail clerks. And that's why I'm ignoring yet another FB friend request.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Shake your money maker. Or sack of potatoes.

You might recall the lovely Mary's comments on my recent sit-down with Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shread.

Don't do it! Walk AWAY from the Shred! If you must, watch it again. But whatever you do, do NOT get up off the couch.

I did that stupid workout (Level 1, many modifications of my own, no weights) three times in four days. And I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE. ... Do it if you want. But you can't say you weren't warned.

I took what she said to heart. Really, I did. On Friday? I didn't even consider doing Shred. I was too busy drinking wine and eating Moo Shu pork.

But Saturday? Saturday, I ventured out in the balmy 1-degree weather to check out these pants I'd had my eye on.

Yeah, you know this isn't going to end well.

The pants in question were cord trousers from J. Jill. And they were on sale. And in cute colors. But I forgot one important thing: J. Jill pants don't fit me. Ever. Under any circumstances. Even with my recent embrace of actually getting clothes altered, J. Jill and I are not a good match. Yesterday's pants were no exception.

You might think that it's impossible for a fairly fit 34-year-old woman to be suddenly transformed into an 83-year-old Depends wearer. You would be mistaken. You obviously have not seen me in J. Jill pants. Seriously. My ass suddenly looked like a sack of potatoes (or two) and my legs, mysteriously, shrunk four inches when I tried on the pants.

I was a bit ... perturbed.

I felt gross. And so? I disregarded Mary's warning. I went home, moved my couch and my coffee table, and proceeded to try to kill myself with Jillian Michaels.

Big shocker, the workout is harder than it looks. Like Mary, I didn't use weights. Like Molly, I hate jumping jacks and modified them with a one-armed flail intended to protect my ample boobage. Like pretty much everyone else who has ever done this workout? I wanted to die.

But I did it. I completed the workout.

All was fine until this morning. I slept until 11:30. I think my Sleeping Beauty-ness was due partly to the remnants of Wretched Cold. But mostly? Mostly, I slept in because I couldn't move my body.

I am sore allllll over. My quads are in such pain that I'm having difficulty both getting down on and up from the toilet seat. Perhaps I actually am an 83-year-old Depends wearer.

I'm trying to stay positive. Perhaps 30-Day Shred is actually 60-Day Shred, with a day off between each workout. Perhaps tomorrow, I'll be able to lift my arms and will suddenly be on my way to such fitness that I'll have the energy to begin my takeover of the evil J. Jill empire.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Well, my fingers would be crossed if I could move them into a crossed position.

Friday, January 8, 2010

We don't need another hero.

When Lil' Frankfurter visits my parents, he tends to get all bloody. The stairs and wall-to-wall carpet in their split-level really do a number on my little man's delicate paws.

You might recall Lil' Frank's Flashdance moment. Lil' Frank + My Mom + Gauze = Awesome!
So, over Christmas, we were determined to protect the dude's sensitive soles. We tried baby socks, but they just fell off. We tried doggie booties, but they just made Lil' Frank fwap around like a duck.
Which, let's be honest, was hilarious.

So, if we couldn't protect the pup's paws from the carpet, we needed to find a way to keep the kid from the carpet. Lil' Frank generally does not approve of any Doxie Containment System. Check out how he handled the $60 travel crate in which I had the gall to contain him for a whole hour and a half during Christmas Eve mass.
I know. I know!

Finally, we got the brilliant idea to get the baby gate out. Lil' Frank + Baby Gate + Back Hallway + Tennis Balls = Doxie Thunderdome!
Seriously. The kid went nuts.
It was like a giant doxie playpen, except that he required - nay, demanded - constant supervision. He loved being in the thunderdome as long as someone was there at all times to throw one of his tennis balls.
We didn't keep him in there a lot, just enough to get him tired out away from the carpet. I must admit, though, that I kept hearing Tina Turner in my head, and considered that perhaps I should be wearing a get-up like this to throw tennis balls.
Yeah, I'd rock that look.

Tina courtesy of Google Images.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Live blogging? This is how it's done.

Remember when miniseries were The Shit? And ABC wouldn't call it a miniseries, but AN ABC TELEVISION EVENT?

Oh yeah, baby. Bring it.

While I could write an entire post - nay, an entire blog - about my love of North & South, this is actually a different kind of NOODLEROUX BLOG EVENT.


It's a balmy 3 degrees right now, and I've been wearing not one but two pairs of socks all day. I'm cold. And I'm fat. I gained five pounds over Christmas, a fact that my jeans are all too happy to remind me of on a second-by-second basis. Because when denim digs into your midsection? It makes you love life. Really.

Remember last year when I discovered a great new exercise program based on purchasing Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred workout, then displaying it proudly next to my TV without actually placing it in the DVD player?

It's been there since July. Obviously, I am dedicated to this regimen.

However, it occurred to me that feeling cold and fat was a perfect time to just do the damn workout already. But I don't want to rush into anything. I considered doing the workout, with workout clothes and my yoga mat and the whole deal. But I don't have hand weights, so I'd be already sort of not going all out. So maybe I could just watch the workout while sort of doing it, even though I'd be wearing my friendly jeans and wouldn't have any clue what I was doing.

Then, I realized that no, I need to watch the workout before I attempt to participate. This will help me get acquainted with the routine and will help me and Jillian build a relationship. A relationship built on trust, so that I'll be physically and emotionally prepared to participate in the workout later.

So, I'm putting the DVD in right now.
Jillian is totally committed to getting big results. She's totally committed to me! This isn't a workout - it's a system! A high-energy system with different levels that will definitely give me !results! Right on. I feel a difference already.

Lil' Frankfurter and Foxie Doxie are wearing their argyle sweaters and are asleep on the couch. Obviously, 30-Day Shred is a family activity. Like Jillian, the doxies are totally committed to getting big results.

I've selected the Level 1 workout. Jillian is chatting with her workout bitches. I hate them already. I have a feeling they didn't eat barbeque potato chips for dinner.

Everybody's just swinging their arms. Now they're shaking it out. I could do this.

Shake it out! Then right into jumping jacks! Everybody's getting warm and not getting hurt. However, my ears hurt from this music. It's like bad late 80s rap with a dying squirrel screaming in the background.

Jillian refuses to give me modified jumping jacks. If I want results, I have to do the work. However, I can wuss out with the push-ups with what we learned in PE as "ladies' push-ups." Because upper-body strength and uteruses (uteri?) are mutually exclusive. At least that's the excuse that's been working for me since 1987.

Jillian has a tattoo. It looks like an eagle around her entire ankle. Which makes me think of the Say Yes to the Dress episode I saw today while eating barbeque potato chips - one of the brides was wearing a law enforcement monitoring ankle bracelet. And she showed up to pick out her wedding dress with her four kids. Way to set an example.

Jillian is done with strength training and we're back to jumping jacks. None of the women in this video have any boobs. Just the idea of all of these jumping jacks makes my ladies want, like, four layered jogbras. Just sayin'.

Jillian says I am capable of working out and will get the results I want and deserve. I have to admit - her narration is really good. I don't want to kill her ... from the comfort of my couch.

I wonder if doing this workout will make me begin all conversations with "Jillian this" and "Jillian that." Because that's totally where this posted is headed. You're feeling the burn, aren't you?

As much as I'm pretty sure this workout would kick my butt, it's getting difficult to sit on my couch and just watch this video. I think I'm getting fatter. Maybe I'm just retaining water.

Jillian says if I want results, I have to hang with her and fight for it! There is no stopping - this takes the place of HOURS of phoning it in at the gym.

Jillian's hair is so shiny. Yesterday, I got my hair cut and admitted to Crazy Stylist that I don't actually condition. She looked at me like I'd just admitted I was illiterate. Needless to say, I walked out with a bottle of conditioner. I wonder what kind of conditioner Jillian uses. I'd ask her, but she's currently killing a woman with some sort of hideous ab torture. If you want abs like that, you have to fight for it! Jillian is very combative. They should put her in charge of the TSA - no terrorists would get through airport security. Jillian doesn't take any shit!

Now I'm blowing my nose, still fighting the end of Wretched Cold. I hope Jillian doesn't think I'm phoning it in. I'm fighting for my nasal health!

Now, we're going to finish strong! We don't just turn off the DVD. We push a little harder and see results! That knot in my stomach is me getting strong - it has nothing to do with barbeque potato chips. It's fear leaving my system!

And now, finally, it's cool-down time. Jillian is not terribly flexible. I love her for this.

The dying squirrel rap is now sort of a generic Marc Anthony Latin beat. I think I preferred the squirrel.

Now we're shaking it out again. I'm feeling really positive about my workout. I made some progress. Jillian says I'm well on my way to being shredded!

OK - and that was it.

Overall? I'd say that I like Jillian's workout. It was accessible, and her talk during the workout was motivating. I also like how she broke the workout into very small increments - I can get through one minute of ab work.

Lil' Frank and Foxie Doxie also felt comfortable with the workout, but they wished there was an option to view the workout without the music. They think that their own barking would be far preferable.

As a family, we've decided that maybe tomorrow, we'll do the workout again. We're feeling the burn.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

High highs and low, low lows.

Yesterday? Was a day of great triumph and celebration amongst my peoples. My Iowa Hawkeyes killed it in the Orange Bowl. Like, complete and utter domination.

Thank you, sweet eight-pound, six-ounce baby Jesus in your golden fleece diaper.
And I will admit that when they were showing season highlights during the pregame show? Somebody got a little bit teary-eyed. Never mind how blissed out I was that BCS games actually have pregame shows and gaudy half-time shows. It's big time, my friends. Big frickin' time.

But about the time the game ended? One of my high school classmates passed away. She'd had a massive stroke and was life-flighted Monday night. Last night, she passed. She left behind a husband and two little kids.

I didn't know her super well, but I'm from a small town - we are tight tribe. She was never anything but smiling and kind. She grew up to be a nurse. She was a good person.

So, sweet baby Jesus? I'm having trouble understanding. I can only imagine how those two little kids will ever understand the loss of their mommy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Letters, oh we get letters.

Tracye wrote: Nyquil is a good - no, GREAT - bedfellow - but he is not a longterm partner. He's a one-to-two night stand. Three max, and by the third night he's beginning to lose interest in helping a gal out. Don't abuse Nyquil, just love him for the shortterm.

Girl, you ain't lyin'. That is so, so true. I feel rather rode hard and put away wet, as I have been around the cold medicine block. So, I broke it off with NyQuil, deciding to go with the non-drowsy cough syrup coupled with not one but two Advil PMs. Sounds good, right?

No! That cocktail kept me up until four in the morning. You try staying awake on two Advil PMs - it is a trip.

But what kind of sick (literally) moron am I? I'm the kind of sick moron who tries this recipe for disaster a second night and is surprised when doing the same thing gets the same results.

I won't even go into how I realized today that I felt like my entire body was carbonated and maybe I was having side effects from the non-drowsy (read: laced with meth) cough syrup.

I've been drinking a ton of water and eating fish tacos in an effort to cleanse my system.

What were we talking about again?

Sherilee wrote: I'm curious which of Cathy Lamb's you'd recommend for a first-time reader?

Hmm. You really can't go wrong. They are all fast, fun reads. The first I read was Julia's Chocolates, which I recommend mostly because I love the visual of abandoning your wedding dress in a tree at the side of a road.

I'm not giving anything away. It's on the cover of the book.

My conscious asked: Speaking of your year-end posts, dear Cha Cha, you sorta left us hanging on what your plans are for 2010. What gives?

Yeah, well, Wretched Cold sort of took over any thoughts I had toward the future. It made me think back wistfully to my younger days, like, "I used to wear jewelry and sing and wear bras. Those were the days!" I was in the autumn of my years. But now I've started to feel better and am less, you know, at death's door.

So, basically, I have two resolutions for the new year. The first is a continuation of last year's goal to cook more. I like to cook, and last year I received some kick-ass knives for Christmas. This year, I received a kick-ass blender, and I gave myself a little present in the way of The Earthbound Farm Cookbook. It's the sort of cookbook I dig - gorgeous color photos of all of the recipes, because I'm a visual learner. And all sorts of useful info about eating organic and knowing where your food comes from.

The second resolution?

Umm? It's sort of shameful.

See, I'm an editor. But really? I'm an editorial manager. At a Fortune 500 company. Not that I'm hot shit (I'm not), but just some context. I'm an editor / editorial manager ... and I don't know the proper usage of lay and lie.


I'll learn it, but then I'll see something shiny or Hoarders will come on TV or Lil' Frank will poo on the floor ... and I totally forget about my romance with the tricky verbs. I get it, but I never really embrace it and make it my own. I flirt with it and then forget allll about it.

So, 2010 is the year I finally master lay / lie / lain / laid / lalala.

I feel as though I have totally just thrown down the gauntlet. Bwah ha! Verb mastery shall be mine - and no wind, no rain, no trash TV shall stand in my way!

Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The mix tape: always appropriate.

When NyQuil and I started out this week, I was so in love. Our song was totally "Love of a lifetime" by Firehouse.

Then, a few days later? Things were OK, but not, you know, great. I saw the danger signs. Totally "Tryin' to get the feeling again" by your favorite artist and mine, Barry Manilow.

And last night? After a day of hacking and two hot showers meant not to extinguish my considerable funk but to break up some of the crap in my lungs and sinuses? A day of desperately wanting to leave my house but also wanting to just go to bed to escape the mucus-drenched reality of my life?

Yeah. NyQuil totally did not deliver. But why? What did I do wrong? All I ever did was love you, NyQuil! Why are you failing me now?

I can honestly say that as I stewed in bed, awake, hacking, and totally pissed off, I entertained myself by coming up with a playlist. A playlist of the mix tape that I'd make for NyQuil to let him know in no uncertain terms that dude, we are over.

Goodbye to you - Scandal
I hate myself for loving you - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
You don't own me - Leslie Gore
Here I go again - Whitesnake
You're so vain - Carly Simon
Heartbreaker - Pat Benatar
Time for me to fly - REO Speedwagon

And, of course, the greatest break-up song evah: Tyrone by Erykah Badu.

What songs did I miss? And what new cold medicine will knock me out appropriately?

Obviously, I'm delirious with fatigue. Be glad that I'm still sequestered away at home, keeping my funk and germs and general lack of sanity to myself.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Cha Cha's Stuff of 2009: This is Your Life Edition.

Please tell me that I'm not the only person who spent their New Year's Day eating Triscuits and watching Bravo's The Biggest Loser marathon.


Oh-kay, then.

Wretched Cold is totally rocking the casbah. Today, I managed to take a shower and put on a bra. Yesterday? My biggest accomplishment was brushing my teeth and putting on clean jammies before My Guy came over. He brought milk, bread, my favorite Dannon coffee-flavored yogurt, and two varieties of Kleenex. And later, he went out and bought me the ultimate "I've given up and now admit that I'm totally sick" gear: ginger ale and Vicks Vaporub.

Honestly? It was pretty much the best New Year's Eve. As he walked in with his Walgreens bounty, I told My Guy, "This is my Valentine's Day. Thank you for loving me so much."

And because he is brilliant, he just looked at me and said, "Well, would you let me know when you think your birthday is, then? Because obviously our calendars are not in sync."

Bwah ha ha!

So, interesting stuff I'm hacking up and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals aside, let's take a look back at Cha Cha's 2009.

Best adventure
I don't know if sitting on your ass can be considered an adventure, but spending a week at a really nice hotel on a really nice beach with my really nice mom was really, really awesome. I highly recommend it.

Best family addition / cause of outrageous and unexpected bills
Oh, Lil' Frankfurter. Your listing on Petfinder called you shy and submissive ... obviously, whoever wrote that never met you. I'd sue them for false advertising, except that I'm too busy trying to sell a kidney to pay for your veterinary mishaps. And adoring you endlessly.

Best tender-hearted mainstay
The pillar of the pack: Foxie Doxie. I found you today, curled up on the bed with a wrapped chocolate next to you. You hadn't opened it, but you were ashamed and didn't understand why I laughed when took the prize away. I love you every day, even when you rub your arse on my arm. Which is quite often. I guess you're marking me as yours.

Best $5 spent all year
Was there ever any doubt?


Most awesomest thing that made me cry
Hearing on Christmas morning all of the amazing things my family did to celebrate the season. Families were adopted. Food pantries were restocked. Winter coats were purchased. Animal shelters were supported. Salvation Army bells were rung. And I fell in love with my family all over again.

Best gift
This is something I am still in the process of giving myself. It's the freedom to love, and to allow myself to be loved in return. And it's letting go of the past - forgiving but still remembering what I learned. Obviously, one is a work in progress, and I'm OK with that.

Best discovery
I make a pretty damn good bloody mary. Obviously, this is a life skill that will serve me well in the coming years.

My Guy asked me last night if I had any resolutions for 2010, but that was right about the time the NyQuil kicked in. Stay tuned ... we'll explore the possibilities tomorrow with Cha Cha's Stuff of 2010: What's Your Deal?